Retirement homes and assisted living communities are places where seniors often end up when it is no longer feasible to continue living at home. This is generally the result of health conditions and mobility issues that make independent living difficult, if not impossible. Some older adults may welcome the move to a retirement community, while others may be more hesitant to accept their new arrangement. Whatever the conditions may be, there are typically challenges and struggles that ensue when a move to a retirement home is made.
What are the Challenges of Living in a Retirement Home?
With a steadily aging population in Canada, retirement homes and assisted living facilities are becoming more overcrowded by the day. With the public health care system offering little benefit to seniors with chronic health issues, other means of assistance must be sought. Retirement homes can offer a safe haven for seniors in need of constant care, but often come up short in providing older adults the level of care and attention they require.
Some of the main concerns for seniors in retirement homes, are:
- Conflicts in tight quarters
- Lack of independence
Most retirement communities are well over the capacity of residents that would make for a comfortable living environment. Because there are so many seniors in need of continual care, assisted living communities become overcrowded. This often results in residents being neglected, and not getting nearly the level of support they need for maintaining health and solace. Overcrowding also tends to lead to strained relations between residents, when personal space is at a premium.
Conflicts in Tight Quarters
The more people that are jammed into a tight space, the more likely it is that clashes and disputes will ensue. Overcrowding can easily cause strain and strife between residents as they compete for caregiver attention, nurse care, and access to other amenities. If seniors are constantly having to fight for the care they need, it can really take away from the quality of life they are seeking. Plus, a lack of personal space and freedom can make people become more irritable and easily agitated.
Now, after we have considered the problems that overcrowding creates in a retirement home setting, add understaffing into the mix. The majority of retirement communities are seriously understaffed, further exacerbating the overcrowding issue. A retirement home is a business just like any other, and they will cut corners wherever they can to improve the bottom line. This results in a lack of caregivers available to meet the needs and demands of a large senior population. Inconsistent staffing and a high turnover rate for retirement home caregivers is also typically an issue.
Feeling socially isolated may seem impossible in such a crowded environment, but the reality is that many seniors do feel isolated in a retirement home setting packed with other residents. In some cases, seniors have difficult adjusting to this new environment, and they become withdrawn as a result.
Lack of Independence
This may be the biggest challenge that new residents to a retirement community typically face. They are no longer able to come and go as they please, are told to eat a certain time, activities are at a certain time, and so on. This routine can become monotonous and draining with no way to break it up with a little variety.
How can Respite Caregivers Help?
Respite caregivers can offer a huge boost for seniors living in a retirement community. Family members can also provide helpful support and assistance, but they often have their own busy lives to consider as well. Respite caregivers can come in a few times a week to break up the routine, provide focused care for whatever is needed, and even arrange excursions to get out for some activity.
Respite caregivers can help in a retirement home setting with:
- Personal care for assistance with maintaining hygiene
- Medication management
- Companion care for some additional social interaction, mentally stimulating activities, and someone who will listen and offer support
- Excursions and outings
- Nurse care for those who need more frequent medical attention
- Additional support for patients with dementia
- Palliative care services
Respite caregivers can be a welcome addition to a retirement home environment, to ensure your loved one is getting the level of care, support, and attention they need to enjoy daily life.